By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
With the unveiling of Ford Childress as West Virginia’s quarterback in a 41-7 victory over lowly Georgia State on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, the Mountaineers took a big step toward developing an identity.
But when Coach Dana Holgorsen was asked during the Big 12 Conference coaches call if he knew where this team was heading, he had to reply in the negative.
“No, not really,” he began. “Defensively, I knew we were going to be ahead of where we were offensively and I’m pleased with what they have put out on the field, and they’ve continued to get better each week.”
Indeed, the Mountaineer defense is a horse of a totally different color from the one last year that broke all the records for futility.
But he knows they haven’t reached the heart of their schedule.
“Maryland brings a different test for us because they have two wideouts that are as good as anyone in the country, so that will be a good test for us,” he admitted.
“Offensively we knew we were young and replacing a lot of guys. I think Ford will have a chance to settle the unknown at quarterback. We’ll go with him and try to continue to get better each week.”
Charles Sims has gone for 100-plus rushing yards in two of WVU’s first three games and also showed himself to be a big play receiver.
However, Holgorsen is trying to see that he doesn’t go overboard on Sims early in the season.
“His production is going to be high if we give it to him all the time, but it’s a long season and we don’t want to wear him down,” Holgorsen said. “We have to get him going in the pass game, get him in screens and dumping it to him in the flats. He’s extremely capable at doing a lot of that.”
Sims also is being used as an example of how to play the game to the younger players.
“He’s a hard worker in practice and a lot of these young kids are looking at him and saying that’s how he does it, that’s how I need to do it as well,” Holgorsen said. “He has played in a bunch of games and has consistency. He’s a well-rounded player. He’s good for a lot of our young backs. He adjusted really well because of his familiarity with me and the offense.”
In the changing world of West Virginia football, a hotly contested regional rivalry like the Mountaineers’ Saturday game against Maryland in Baltimore is a big-ticket item.
To begin with, the game is crucial in an important recruiting area.
“Maryland is a big recruiting base for us,” Holgorsen noted on the Big 12 coaches call. “It’s an important game for us and our fans and an important game for them and their fans as well. It’s always big in recruiting. It’s always going to be big for us. We didn’t have to do much Sunday to get them motivated.”
To help add to the aura surrounding the game, it is played on a neutral field, one players look forward to performing on — Ravens Stadium.
And as for the importance in recruiting, all you really need to know is that WVU got Tavon Austin out of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and, before him, the Mountaineers landed a player who originally had signed with the Terrapins — all-time great running back Steve Slaton.
Not that the turnaround wasn’t fair play, for WVU signed a really good Maryland native, quarterback Scott O’Brien, only to have him transfer to Maryland and become one of their greatest quarterbacks when he was beaten out for the starting job at WVU.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.